U.S. College Students’ Internet Use: Race, Gender and Digital Divides



The goal of this study was to learn about whether race and gender make a difference in Internet use among U.S. college students. A survey of college students at 40 U.S. higher education institutions was conducted, along with observations and interviews at several Midwestern U.S. universities. For comparison to the general U.S. population a nationwide telephone survey was undertaken. The study presents new data on Internet use among male and female college students, as well as trends in use across racial lines. Data on non-White Hispanic college student users of the Internet provides insight into Internet use among a group that appears to be underrepresented in the literature on college students and Internet use. The data analysis presents a complex picture of differential Internet use along gender lines, one that is generally consistent with the existing scholarly literature. Differential use based on race is a bit more complex. Stronger points of contrast emerge amongst White non-Hispanic, Hispanic, and Black non-Hispanic college students than they do when the respondents are grouped by gender.